A Compassionate Conservative Votes

For months, I’ve been thinking of what I to say about this election.  As the campaign season has gone on (and on), and the rhetoric has become more and more divisive, I’ve retreated…away from the politics and the vitriol seen in the U.S. to focus on my work overseas…on some form of action I can take to make the world a bit better when it seems that all people want to do is fight and bicker.

As dawn breaks on Election Day in the U.S., I’m faced with an unfamiliar feeling.  More than in any previous election, I am uncomfortable with my vote…more uncomfortable than I’d like to be.  And, two weeks ago when I took my ballot to the U.S. Embassy to be mailed home, it was difficult to let my ballot go knowing the vote that I’d cast.


I’m a Republican.  It’s part of who I am.

There are few things that I feel truly define me, and Republican — along with Christian, Clemson football fan, and (U.S.) southerner — is one of those things.

I remember how excited I was to vote in my first election.  I cast my first ever vote in a presidential election for George W. Bush.  A few years later, I would go on to work under President Bush at the White House where I fought for immigration reform, pushed for better education for all children, promoted free trade, and supported our country’s relief and development efforts around the world to end poverty and save lives.  I was a compassionate conservative and proud to be a part of the Bush Administration.


Today, when I look at the ballot, I don’t see me or my values anywhere.  I don’t see compassionate conservatism.  I don’t see the values of the Republican party that I grew up with.  And, I don’t really see values that I agree with at all. Today, I see a Republican party desperate.  I see disillusioned fellow conservatives who can’t even speak the name of their party’s nominee.  I see hatred, racism, and exclusivity in what was once known as the Grand Ole Party with a tent big enough for everyone.

Today, I see a Republican party desperate.  I see disillusioned fellow conservatives who can’t even speak the name of their party’s nominee.  I see hatred, racism, and exclusivity in what was once known as the Grand Ole Party with a tent big enough for everyone.Today, I see a Republican party that closes its doors rather than opens them.  I see a Republican presidential candidate that disrespects women, makes racist comments, acts as a bully, incites violence,

Today, I see a Republican party that closes its doors rather than opens them.  I see a Republican presidential candidate that disrespects women, makes racist comments, acts as a bully, incites violence, sows further division, and seemingly does not stand for principles our country was founded on.  I see a candidate…and, honestly, an electorate…that only thinks about themselves and what’s best for them — here and now.  I don’t see a people who are thinking of others — not just in the U.S. but around the world — of those who depend on our president, our leadership, and our country.

Outside of the Republican party, I also see two other candidates who I don’t feel reflect me either.

There was a time when Gary Johnson may have been a better reflection of the policies and values that are important to me.  However, his lack of knowledge and general interest in foreign affairs, have left a bitter taste in my mouth that I can’t get rid of.  As much as he may want fewer international entanglements for the U.S., right now, we’re in the midst of many.  And, if he were to become president, he would have to be able to lead in those situations.  And, unfortunately, I’m not sure that he wants to…or can.

And, then, there’s Hillary Clinton.

Growing up Republican, I was taught early on that the Clintons were to be disliked and not trusted.  My memories of the White House in the 1990s are primarily of President Clinton’s scandals and the impeachment trial.  However, despite the disdain I came to know was associated with the Clintons, I knew the respect that is intrinsic to the presidency.  And, when I later worked at the White House, it became crystal clear to me the importance of respect for the office of the presidency…no matter who is in it — Clinton, Bush, Obama, and so forth.

More important than the personal reservations about the Clintons, there are the policy implications of a Hillary Clinton presidency.  In this area, I don’t agree with HillaryClinton on much, including the higher taxes, increased regulations, and additional military interventions that will come with her presidency.

However, I know that Hillary Clinton is a dedicated public servant.  I know that she listens to the opinions of those who advise her and to those that she represents.  I know that she is educated and has thought about the issues and policies of most importance to our country.  I know that she is experienced.  And, while I’m not always thrilled with the outcomes of her past work, she knows how to handle the presidency and the many difficulties that come along with it.

So, this November (or really a few weeks ago at the U.S. Embassy), I’m casting my vote for Hillary Clinton.

I stared long and hard at my ballot and, honestly, did hesitate when I put a check-mark by her name.  But, this election, the stakes are too high to vote any differently.

I know that I won’t agree with her on everything…probably on most things.  And, I’ll continue to raise my voice about the issues of importance to me, which will probably be against her policies.  But, as former speechwriter to President George W. Bush, David Frum wrote, “…she is a patriot.  She will uphold the sovereignty and independence of the United States.  She will defend allies.  She will execute the laws with reasonable impartiality.  She may bend some rules for her own and her supporters’ advantage.  She will not outright defy legality altogether.  Above all, she can govern herself; the first indispensable qualification for governing others.”

So, here it is, it’s official:  #ImWithHer.

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  • Reply
    Tara L.
    July 15, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Awesome post, Loren!!! Thank you for sharing! Your and Craig’s writings on this election were both incredibly insightful and introspective. For the first time for me (and probably for many others), I was not excited to vote for a presidential candidate.. voting felt more like a civic duty this election cycle. I think most people (definitely all, but many for sure) felt like they had no truly good options this election. Let’s hope the parties can actually start producing candidates that represent and reflect the beliefs of the people in future elections :/

  • Reply
    Susan M.
    July 15, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Hi, I’m a very good friend of Nan’s and have know Craig since he was born. I read Craig’s blog the other day, re: election, and it really resonated with me, as your’s does today. I have come to hate this election, and really find the thought of voting for either candidate repugnant. Your blog has helped me decide what I need to do. I, too, was raised republican, but I know, like you, that Hillary is the most stable and experienced candidate, though I am so angered by the Clinton’s dubious machinations.

  • Reply
    Sandra Z.
    July 15, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    About 12 years ago when Bill Clinton’s autobiography came out, my grandmother, who worshipped the ground he walked on, was so excited when he came to a book signing near us. She put on her best suit and did her hair, put on her favorite red lipstick and ladybug pin. We were as excited as she was for her to meet her idol. We took her and her wheelchair and drove to Brentano’s, only to be told that the line had started at 6 a.m. and there was no way we were getting in. My darling grandma was crushed, and I was furious and incensed. I lived across the street and shopped at that Brentano’s constantly, I knew all the staff, and I couldn’t believe they weren’t letting in my amazing grandma, in her 80s, for the only chance she would ever get to meet her idol.

    I work at a ladies’ clothing store in LA, and the next day a customer came in. We ended up chatting, and I poured out my grief to her about the experience. She said, “you know, he’s one of my oldest friends.” I stared at her, dumbfounded, and asked “who??” thinking maybe she was talking about the bookstore owner or someone, not Clinton! But no, she said, “Bill Clinton. We grew up together in Arkansas, and as a matter of fact, Hillary is coming to my house tomorrow, and if you get me your grandmother’s book, I will give it to her, and she will take it to Bill, and he will sign it for your grandmother.” All I could do was stammer a million thanks, in total disbelief that this lady I had never met would volunteer to do such a thing for a total stranger. In return, she very emphatically said to me, “don’t thank ME, I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing it for HIM, because I KNOW that this is what he would want, because he feels so strongly about things like this, ESPECIALLY pertaining to the elderly!” It was the actress Mary Steenburgen, and I never forgot those words of hers, or other things she told me on subsequent visits to my store, including the times she had gone with Bill Clinton to Africa where he ensured villages got water, and other things that she told me were never advertised but that the Clintons always did to better this world. I became their biggest fan after that.

    The next day, my mother, not I, went to Mary, because I had to be at a wedding. She took not just my grandma’s book, but also hers and my aunt’s, because Mary told her if any other member of our family wanted a signed book, to also bring it. Several months later, when we had just about given up hope, we received a FedEx pack with the 3 huge, heavy books, all of them signed to their difficult Croatian names. My darling grandma, God rest her soul, never understood much English in her life, but that book was one of her proudest possessions, and she displayed it on her dresser every day of her life, and bragged about it to everyone. It’s still there, in her old room at my mom’s house, and every time I see it, it brings me to tears.

    For years I dreamed of the opportunity to thank Hillary in person, but never thought it would come. Then this past July 2nd, I found myself in the Richard Rodgers Theater in NYC for Hamilton, and lo and behold, both Bill and Hillary were in the same theater that magical night. Although I was in the 2nd mezzanine and they in the 7th row, by a true miracle, at intermission, I was able to go all the way down to the 7th row, completely unimpeded by any ushers or secret service. President Clinton was standing in the aisle speaking to someone, I interrupted him just enough to introduce myself and get a selfie and say I knew Mary Steenburgen, but then I turned and saw Hillary sitting in the row, the row behind her completely empty. It was truly just such an unbelievable thing, that even now writing about it I’m shaking my head incredulously. I knelt behind her and begged her pardon for bothering her, and she instantly turned around and assured me graciously that it was no bother at all. I told her my name and that I knew Mary, then very briefly told her about the book situation, which of course she didn’t remember since it had been 12 years since then, but she seemed so happy about it, and genuinely and sincerely thanked me for sharing the story with her and said how glad she was to have made my grandmother so happy. I asked for a selfie, and she took my phone from me, said “sure!” and snapped a photo I’ll treasure forever.

    Knowing Mary Steenburgen as well as I do now, all those years later, I always think of that saying that you can tell a lot about a person by their friends. And Mary is the soul of kindness, generosity, empathy, compassion and class. The way she speaks of the Clintons, and based on my experience with them, I know they are the same. The polar opposite of the schoolyard bully we just elected to be the most powerful man in the world. God help us all. My heart is broken, for Hillary, for me, for my country. But I thank you so much for having made absolutely the right choice and voting with your heart. You were so right.

  • Reply
    Sarah B.
    July 15, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Wow Loren, so glad I checked in on your blog and found this. I think we share a brain. I had very deep reservations about HRC and voted for neither and now regret it– I completely misjudged how close it actually was. I weep for our country and hope we get it the F together in 4 years or until he is impeached. It does make me cherish all the more our time serving the cause of compassionate conservatism. Hope you are well!

  • Reply
    A Compassionate Conservative Votes – Again – Foreign Loren
    November 2, 2020 at 10:29 pm

    […] It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since the last election.  During that time, I’ve remained in Jordan where I’ve had an outsider’s view of the Trump presidency.  In some ways, I’ve been shielded from everything going on in the White House and with American politics – the distance serves as a filter of sorts that keeps me from getting too close.  However, in other ways, I’ve seen the impact that this Administration has had internationally and the implications that even the smallest remarks and actions of the president have on a global scale.  As we approach Election Day, I find myself reflecting on the state of American politics and where I fit.  And, I find myself feeling very similar to how I did four years ago today… […]

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